Greek History: 4 Things that Originated in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece was a civilisation that existed not only in Greece, but also in some other states that were connected by culture and language. It is generally accepted that the Ancient Greek period extended from around 1200 BCE, to the year 323 BCE. This period of time was characterised by a number of inventions and achievements, many of which can still be found in our everyday lives today. We are so passionate about Greek culture and history, so we have decided to share with you some of the things, from the Olympics to the iconic souvlaki, that originated in Ancient Greece. Read on to discover something new about the civilisation that had such an impact on our world today. Plus, if you’re feeling inspired and craving some authentic Greek food, keep reading to find out where you can get the best souvlaki in Melbourne.

The Olympic Games

Who doesn’t love the Olympics? They showcase not only the best in sporting ability but also in sportsmanship, with so many of the countries of the world coming together once every four years for one purpose. It might surprise you to know that the modern Olympic Games that we know and love, are hugely inspired by the Olympic Games held in Ancient Greece. Indeed, the first known games that we now recognise as the Olympics were held in 776 BC, a date which may not be exact, but is cited in many sources.

There are many elements that featured in ancient Olympic Games that have been carried through to the modern Olympics. For instance, in Ancient Greece, the games were held every four years, an interval known as an Olympiad. Indeed, the site of the original Olympic Games was Olympia, and they were held in honour of the Olympian gods. Further, sports like wrestling and sprinting featured in the original form of the Olympics, two events that are still staples in the games today.

Democracy

It is widely accepted that the concept that we know as democracy can be attributed to Ancient Greece. While there is evidence elsewhere of the use of a form of democratic government, it is generally believed that many of the fundamental tenets of democracy as we know it originated in Greece, around 508 BCE. It is believed that the first example of a democratic political system can be found in the reformation of the constitution in Athens, by Cleisthenes, who is often regarded as the father of Athenian democracy. This democracy was a direct democracy, which means that the laws and policies were not decided upon by elected individuals, but rather, by gathering a majority opinion from a group of assembled citizens. These citizens included ordinary people, though did exclude many different groups of people, including women, enslaved people, and young people below a certain age. While modern democracy as we know it in Australia has certainly evolved and developed for the better, the general principles of democracy originated in the civilisation we know as Ancient Greece.

Modern Philosophy

Ancient Greece was also known for its love of philosophy and philosophical thinking. Take Socrates, for instance, and you will find that his philosophical thought is still studied today, and is indeed, considered fundamental to modern philosophy. In fact, consider just the word philosophy, and you will find its origins buried deep within Ancient Greece. (Philosophy is derived from the Greek term phile, which means love, and also from the word sophia, which means wisdom). The Greek philosophers were interested in reason, as well as inquiry, neither of which originated in Greek philosophy but are said to still influence modern philosophy today.

Souvlaki

the best souvlaki Melbourne

Souvlaki: tender, marinated meat, cooked to perfection, laid in a bed of fresh and crisp vegetables, smothered in the perfect sauce, and wrapped in a pillowy soft pita. Hungry yet?

It’s true, the souvlaki that we all know and love actually has its origins in Ancient Greece. While, once again, exact dates can be patchy, it is acknowledged that there were ancient references to a meal resembling the souvlaki that we know today. The first mention of a meal akin to the souvlaki is widely attributed to a scene in Homer’s Iliad, the Greek epic poem.  While the souvlaki has no doubt changed and evolved a great deal over many a century, it is true that the origins of the dish we know today can be found in ancient times.

In the Mood for the Best Souvlaki in Melbourne?

If this article has you craving a delicious, authentic souvlaki, or some exceptional Greek food, look no further than It’s Greek. We’re here to serve you the best that Greek food has to offer and are proud to give you a taste of Greece right here in the heart of Melbourne.

So, when you need the best souvlaki in Melbourne, place your order online, or call us at 03 9548 5607, and we will take care of you!

6 More Traditional Greek Foods

Melbourne: the food, café, and restaurant capital of Australia. Us Melburnians love to eat an eclectic mixture of cuisines, and our unique food and café culture means that Melbourne is home to some of the highest quality food in the world.  It’s true that Melbourne has always had a special connection to Greece and Greek cuisine, and that’s why here at It’s Greek, we are so passionate about serving you the best Greek food in Melbourne. Make sure to take a look at the special relationship between Melbourne and Greek food in our guide to how Greek food has evolved. Keep reading to find out all about more of the most iconic and traditional Greek foods and delicacies. Then, learn where to go for the best Greek takeaway, and how to order online to end up with a delicious Greek feast!

Moussaka

Moussaka is a traditional Greek casserole typically made with eggplants, which are also known as aubergines in places like France.

The typical moussaka has layers somewhat similar to a lasagne, combining the sliced and roasted eggplant with a rich meat sauce, bechamel and a creamy potato topping.

This hearty casserole is one that can be made differently according to the recipe of each particular family. Recipes can be passed down from generation to generation, though the distinct flavours and the warming ingredients make it always recognisable as moussaka.

Octopus

Octopus is an authentic Greek dish that is served in restaurants and homes alike in Greece.

Greek octopus can be smoky in flavour and can be grilled with the simple flavours of lemon and olive oil, or calamari can be battered, fried, or stuffed with feta or tomato.

With so many fishing ports and seaside towns, there is always beautiful fresh octopus to be found in Greek tavernas, and the same can be said for Melbourne’s Greek restaurants, too.

Greek Food_Octopus Salad

Kolokythokeftedes

These gorgeous, bite-sized little fried balls are such a delight, and they feature some of the best traditional Greek flavours.

Packed to the brim with fresh and delicate zucchini, crumbled feta, and the bright zing of mint, kolokythokeftedes are rolled into balls or pressed into fritters.

They are then fried in high-quality olive oil, something there is an abundance of in Greece, and they can often be found on a traditional meze platter.

FAQ: What is a meze platter?

Answer: A meze platter is a selection of savoury appetisers which are served alongside a drink or aperitif, such as ouzo.

Melitzanosalata

This eggplant dip is deceptively simple in its flavour profile but is a real stand out on meze platters in Greece and Australia alike.

Melitzanosalata is a traditional recipe that uses eggplants that have been sufficiently baked in the oven to allow them to gain a smoky flavour. They are then either diced or mashed together with lemon juice, garlic, some parsley and plenty of salt and pepper to season.

Serve with some crusty bread and you have a delicious addition to your meze platter, or a tasty meal or snack all of its own.

Check out this melitzanosalata recipe, or leave all the cooking to us, and keep reading to find out where to get exceptional Greek take away!

Briam

Briam is a dish of mixed roasted vegetables packed with fresh flavours of vegetables like potato, zucchini, tomato, and eggplants.

The vegetables are thinly sliced or chopped, layered in a dish, and then topped with onion, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Don’t forget a generous drizzle of high-quality Greek olive oil for added flavour, and then your briam is ready to bake in the oven.

Once out of the oven, briam can be sprinkled with salty feta, or served with bread to mop up the delicious sauce created by the baking.

Taramasalata

Another typical addition to the Greek meze platter, taramasalata, (also known as taramosalata) is a creamy dip made of fish roe from a fish such as cod. This is then combined with high-quality olive oil, lemon juice, grated onion and a starchy base similar to homemade breadcrumbs.

Taramasalata is sometimes eaten at special times of the year, such as Shrove Monday, also known as ‘clean Monday’, in the days preceding Lent.

In the Mood for Terrific Greek Food in Melbourne?

Has all this talk of Greek food got you in the mood for some amazing Greek takeaway? Look no further than It’s Greek! We are proud to bring you the best that Greek cuisine has to offer. We use authentic recipes and flavours that will transport you straight to Greece, right here in the heart of Springvale. Whether you’re craving an exceptional souvlaki, a delicious dip for a meze platter, or a delectable mix grill plate, It’s Greek is here to help. We thrive on providing exceptional customer service, and on serving up the best Greek food in Melbourne!

For an amazing Greek feed, place your order online, or call us on 03 9548 5607, and we will happily take care of you!

4 Greek Christmas and New Year Traditions

With Christmas nearly upon us, it’s time to trim those trees, light those candles, and play the Christmas music that we all love so much. With so much to do and prepare, so many people to see and celebrate with, it’s important to remember the traditions that underpin the Christmas season. Here at It’s Greek, we’re all about celebrating the best of Greek food and culture, including serving incredible Greek take away every day. That’s why we’re sharing this list of traditions that often feature at a Greek Christmas. Keep reading to find out all about it, and where to go when you’re in the mood for an amazing Greek feed!

Decorated Boats (Karavaki)

Greece is a nation made up of islands, so it is no surprise that a standout tradition at Christmas time involves boats, or a small sea vessel known in Greek as the Karavaki. Dating back centuries, this Greek custom has seen people decorating not only Christmas trees, but also boats during the Christmas season. This is due to the fact that, especially in ancient times, many people were seafarers by way of the geography and landscape of Greece.

These decorated boats were a way to honour sailors and seafarers and to pray for their good luck and safe return to their homes. It’s a practice that can still be seen in public spaces in Greece today, with small boats, or Karavaki, sometimes taking pride of place in public spaces alongside Christmas trees.

Carols (Kalanda)

In Greek, carols are known as Kalanda, and these Christmas-themed songs and hymns are embraced by Greek culture as enthusiastically as any other. In Ancient times, it was customary for children in Greece to go carolling from home to home, and afterward would often be invited into homes for something to eat and drink, as a way for the household to say thank you.

This is a tradition that is still around today, and there are many different carols that are popular in varying regions of Greece, such as Trigona Kalanta (a song equivalent to Jingle Bells), and Kalanta Chistougenna (which translates simply to ‘Christmas Carol’ and is a huge crowd pleaser!)

Saint Basil’s Cake (Vasilopita)

Vasilopita, Greek New Year’s cake

Saint Basil’s cake, which is known in Greek as Vasilopita, is either a special cake or bread baked in honour of Saint Basil and served at New Year’s. This saint is an important figure in Greek tradition and is in some cases, regarded as Santa Claus – responsible for bringing presents for children on the first of January.

Vasilopita is thus traditionally served at midnight on New Year’s Eve, to celebrate Saint Basil, and to welcome in the new year. This delicious cake can be baked in a variety of ways, and many families have their own particular recipe that is used every year.  Replete with vanilla flavour as well as the sweet aroma of orange, after baking, Vasilopita is often topped with a deliciously sweet glaze or icing.

However, the most important addition to the Saint Basil’s cake is not edible at all – rather, it’s a coin which is inserted through the base after baking. When the Vasilopita is served, the person who receives the piece with the silver coin is said to be granted good luck for the new year ahead! Check out this Vasilopita recipe if you would like inspiration for your own Saint Basil’s cake.

Christmas Food

Like in many other cultures, it’s customary to serve traditional foods during Christmas and New Year, and there are many different types of Greek baked goods and foods that come out around this time of year. The smell of kourabiedes and Melomakarona baking signals the start of the Christmas season in many a household in Greece and Greek communities outside of Greece itself.

Christopsomo, which translates to ‘Christ’s bread’ in English, is a particular Christmas Eve tradition and is one that carries a lot of symbolism with it in terms of blessings for the new year. However, it’s not just the baked goods that take pride in place at Christmas! To find out more, check out our guide to Greek Christmas food!

Hungry for Greek Takeaway?

If all this talk of Yuletide traditions and the wafting smell of Christmas cooking has you craving delicious and authentic Greek food, then look no further than It’s Greek! We’re here serving incredible gyros and slinging the best souvlaki in Melbourne right in the heart of Springvale. From deliciously tender pork and lamb to succulent chicken, or a mix of all three, we have all your souvlaki or skewer needs covered. Vegetarian friends fear not! Try our delectable haloumi wrap and get the taste of Greece all the same.

For exceptionally tasty Greek food this Christmas season and into the New Year, place your order online, or call us at 03 9548 5607, and we will take care of you!

4 Greek Christmas Food Traditions

With the Christmas season nearly upon us, it’s time to start thinking about all those Christmas traditions that we hold dear, and which make this time of year special. Many of these traditions centre around the kinds of food that are eaten in the lead up to Christmas, and this is certainly no exception in Greek culture.  Here at It’s Greek, we love to celebrate exceptional Greek food every day by serving the best Greek takeaway, and that’s why we’re sharing this list of traditional Greek Christmas treats.

You’ll find these delicacies on Christmas tables on the big day, and in kitchens and pantries across the Christmas season in Greek households around the world, as well as in Greece itself. Keep reading to find out all about the delicious treats and foods that typically feature at a Greek Christmas celebration.

Melomakarona

These delicious cookies herald the beginning of the Christmas season not only in Greece but in Greek homes around the world, including in Australia. Melomakarona are sweet biscuits or cookies, flavoured with honey, as well as those traditional Christmas-time spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

These decadent cookies are made of a relatively simple recipe of flour, sugar, olive oil and orange juice, and after baking, they are covered in delicious honey, making them delightfully syrupy and sweet. Finished off with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts, melomakarona will be instantly recognisable as a Christmas time treat to anybody with a connection to Greek culture.

Recipes for melomakarona often produce dozens of cookies at a time, making them the perfect treat for those unexpected visitors during the Christmas season, or an ideal delicacy for gifting!

Greek biscuits baked and served at Christmas time

Kourabiedes

Another delicious biscuit, Kourabiedes are also a staple in Greek houses over the Christmas season. In Greece in particular, their arrival in bakeries across the country also signals the nearing of Christmas, just like melomakarona. These cookies are delightfully buttery and baking them can fill your home with the wafting aroma of toasted almonds and rose water.

Topped off with a dusting of layers of sweet, powdery icing sugar, and kourabiedes make the perfect Christmas treat! They are the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth cookie and are often served alongside melomakarona at gatherings across the Christmas season. Plus, like melomakarona, kourabiedes will often be features on a platter designed for gifting to friends, family and loved ones at Christmas time.

Pork

While some households favour turkey as the centrepiece of the Christmas dinner table in countries like America, and even sometimes in Australia, in Greece, it is far more common for this to be pork. It is true that pork has traditionally been highly regarded in Greece when it comes to Christmas, and so it’s no surprise that pork-centred dishes vary from region to region in these celebrations.

These variations can include roast pork, stuffed pork made from pork belly, melt in your mouth slow cooked pork, or a traditional pork stew, served with celery and herbs – often on Christmas eve. Regardless of its preparation, on the traditional Greek Christmas table, pork replaces turkey, ham, or shrimp as the main culinary attraction!

greek food-souvlaki pita bread tzatziki sauce

Christopsomo (Christ’s Bread)

Chistopsomo, also known as Christ’s Bread, is a treasured and sacred tradition in many Orthodox households. It is a dish that carries with it much symbolism, and a tradition that has many variations from family to family. The christopsomo is generally baked on Christmas Eve, or else the day before Christmas Eve, and is served on Christmas day. This special bread is baked as an offering to Christ, in the hopes for blessings for the new year.

Christopsomo is topped with a letter X – a decorative touch that actually refers to the first letter in the word Christ when written in Greek. With many variations of Christ’s Bread, some including dried fruit and others mixing in spices and herbs, it’s possible that this dish will be different from one house to another. Whichever way the christopsomo is prepared, the significance and symbolism of this very special bread remains, and you will be sure to find one at many tables during Christmas.

Check out our guide to Greek food delicacies if you’re interested in finding out more about delicious traditional Greek dishes, or read this Wikipedia page all about Greek cuisine to discover some unique facts.  

Are You in the Mood for Greek Takeaway?

If this article has given you an appetite for incredible Greek food, then look no further than It’s Greek! We serve the best Greek food takeaway, backed by a passion for quality cuisine, and the joy of bringing a taste of Greece to Melbourne. If it’s authentic and delectable Greek food you’re after, then we have the answer here at It’s Greek. Plus, if it’s the best souvlaki in Melbourne that’s on your mind – you guessed it – we’ve got that too!

For an authentic Greek feed, place your order online, or alternatively, call us at 03 9548 5607, and we will happily take care of your order!